Behind the Scenes: Just OK is NOT OK! We’ve Got Your Back!

Just OK is Not OKEven if you were unable to attend the Rally to Restore Philadelphia School Librarians on January 24 in front of the School District of Philadelphia’s administration building, hopefully you’ve been following both PSLA’s news as well as the state and national media coverage. With 150 or more attending the rally, I was honored to speak for PSLA and all school librarians in Pennsylvania to put the issue of the loss of school librarians in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the nation in the spotlight.

This rally did not happen without the enormous help of PSLA’s partnership with EveryLibrary (John Chrastka and Patrick Sweeney) who helped us enlist Lauren Comito (LJ Librarian of the Year) as our emcee. EveryLibrary's experience and expertise for a rally enabled PSLA to consider the idea of holding a rally during ALA’s MidWinter Conference and then led us through every step to make it happen successfully. Of course, PSLA’s work was done through the never-ending determination of our State and Local Advocacy Committee, particularly our co-chairs, Deb Kachel and Robin Burns, PSLA President-Elect. We also partnered with the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS), many of whom are former teachers and school librarians from School District of Philadelphia, helping us secure from Philadelphia, a city council member, teacher, school librarian and a high school student on our list of speakers. Kevin Harley and Quantum Communications rounded out the team to ensure that we had legislators speaking and attending as well as local media coverage.

As a PSLA member, regardless of our own situations, we all want adequate staffing of certified school librarians in all schools in Pennsylvania. If you are not part of School District of Philadelphia you might be wondering what the rally means to the other 499 school districts.

First, the media coverage we received has truly brought this issue to stakeholders beyond the Philadelphia geographic area. We are using this momentum to speak for all 500 districts to demand that our students receive equitable access to certified school librarians with quality school library program.

Second, Deb Kachel has built a LibGuide with some of the resources we created, developed and resulted in the rally found here: Please use all of these resources for your local stakeholders. ,

Particularly note at the top of the page the PSLA response to SDP’s claims that what they offer is adequate for their students. Like the ATT commercial that “Just Okay is not Okay,” PSLA’s response addresses several key claims made by districts that have decreased or cut their school library program:

  • Students have access to classroom libraries
  • Students have access to free online resources like the POWER Library
  • Teachers can teach literacy to students instead of school librarians

This response document especially can be adapted to any situation or claim a stakeholder might make if they are trying to justify that a school librarian’s role can be substituted. Got your back

Finally, PSLA continues to work tirelessly both locally and statewide with legislators, state agencies, administrators, and other organizations to fight for every student and every school in Pennsylvania to guarantee access to certified school librarians and school libraries.

PSLA recently applied and was accepted as a governing body organization to PA Schools Work who represents many key coalition partners moving forward.

Please do not hesitate to contact myself, a PSLA Board member or members of our State and Local Advocacy committee if need help advocating for your program or a school library position. We will not hesitate to make our voices heard just as we did on the street in Philadelphia. We’ve Got You Back – because OK IS NOT OK.  Every Student in Pennsylvania Deserves a School Librarian!

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